"It is up to us to make sure that our hobby and its merits are preserved and passed onto the next generation."
In September, the APS development team spoke with Alex Gill about the Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship program, a scholarship program run by the American Philatelic Society. YPLF supports young philatelists, offers them unique opportunities to attend stamp shows across the country, and connects them with experienced mentors in the philatelic world.
Alex Gill graduated from the YPLF program in 2012. He completed the Dealer track as a U.S. Philatelic Classics Society fellow. Gill currently works at the Philatelic Foundation as an expert in the Foundation's expert committee, and also serves as editor-in-chief of two philatelic publications.
See the full interview below.
APS: Why did you choose to apply for YPLF and what did you expect to accomplish?
Alex: I was in my junior year of high school (2011) and a member of the Kettle Moraine Coin and Stamp in my hometown of West Bend, Wisconsin, when I was informed about the YPLF program through several members of the club - Ron & Judy Essig as well as Mary Yahr. They introduced me to MaryAnn Bowman who ran the youth stamp club in nearby Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the conversations I had with MaryAnn Bowman, I learned about the YPLF program and what it entailed.
Prior to applying I also met the program's founder Alex Haimann at a local stamp show and talked with him about the program. I also met fellows who were then in the second class of the program who talked to me. Following these conversations, I chose to apply because I saw the YPLF as a chance to expand my knowledge about philately and meet other collectors around my age that shared my interest.
What did you learn about philately through YPLF? Can you recall a moment or memory from your time as a Fellow that was significant in your learning process?
I learned a lot about philately through the YPLF, especially at stamp shows. While the popularity and amount of collectors is not what it used to be, there still are collectors waiting to share their knowledge and expertise with the next generation. It is up to us to carry on this knowledge and expand it.
A fun memory from the program was visiting the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in the spring of 2012 and seeing full imperforate National Park sheets signed by James A. Farley himself!
"There still are collectors waiting to share their knowledge and expertise with the next generation."
In what ways have you been involved in the philatelic community since graduating from YPLF?
Since graduating from the program, I took my first job out of college with The Philatelic Foundation in New York City where I serve as an expert on the expert committee. I have also taken on the role as editor-in-chief of two philatelic publications, Across The Fence Post and the Wisconsin Badger Postal History Journal, both issued to stamp collectors across my home state of Wisconsin.
Plus, since graduating, I have attended every APS summer show since the first one I attended in 2011 in Columbus, Ohio (8 years in a row)! Additionally, I have written several philatelic articles, including one about the 1964-65 New York World's Fair that was published in the May 2016 issue of the American Philatelist prior to the 2016 World Stamp Show.
What did you learn during your time as a Fellow that serves your involvement in the hobby today?
I learned many things about philately during my time as a fellow, but most notably is that there is always something new to learn and collect in philately. Many collectors with experience have a vast knowledge and are just waiting to share it onto the next generation.
I see that you currently work as an expertizer and editor-in-chief of two publications, Across the Fence Post and Wisconsin Badger Postal History Journal. What drew you to work in these positions?
What drew me to work in these positions was the chance to expand upon my writing and philatelic interests. I have also since moved to New York state since taking the job with The Philatelic Foundation and these positions allow me to stay connected with philatelists and expand the hobby in my home state.
How has your time as a Fellow informed your work as an expertizer and editor of philatelic publications?
My time as a fellow informed my work by introducing me to the world of philately and its resources such as reference collections, libraries, and people, which can be helpful when researching, writing or expertizing.
What are your long term goals in philately?
My long term goals in philately are to continue to expand my collecting knowledge and continue to collect Great Britain's Machin stamps as well as to learn how to differentiate the color shades - a daunting task!
What would you say to someone considering joining YPLF?
I would highly recommend the program to any young collector. If you are looking for the chance to learn more about philately, meet other collectors (particularly around the same age) and to be introduced to the philatelic world, then you should apply.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience of fellows, alumni, donors, and potential applicants?
Unfortunately, the philatelic world is shrinking and not getting any younger. It is up to us to make sure that our hobby and its merits are preserved and passed onto the next generation. Therefore, we must continue to support the YPLF program.